Michigan tourism is poised for another strong year, according to an outlook released Tuesday by Michigan State University tourism experts.
The report by MSU professors Sarah Nicholls and Dan McCole projects the amount of people traveling to and around Michigan will increase by 3 percent this year, while spending should rise 5.5 percent from 2012.
Nicholls said Michigan’s tourism industry experienced steady growth last year. Performance included hotel occupancy rates that for the state as a whole were up 3 percent from 2011 and at the highest level since 2000, and visits to Michigan’s national parks that rose substantially, including a 14 percent increase in visits to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
“We can attribute these positive outcomes in 2012 to a combination of factors including the warm, dry summer and fall, a continued rebound in consumer confidence, relatively steady gas prices and the continuing influence of the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign,” said Nicholls, associate professor in the MSU department of community, agriculture, recreation & resource studies and the department of geography.
Several current tourism trends, like nostalgic reasons for travel and travelers’ increasing interest in experiencing culinary offerings of the places they visit, match well with Michigan, according to MSU assistant professor Dan McCole.
The researchers presented their annual report at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held in Detroit.
An additional report by research firm Longwoods International, released Monday at the conference, found that the Pure Michigan campaign last year attracted 3.8 million out-of-state visitors who spent a record $1.1 billion in the state.
Some 2.3 million of those visitors came from the Great Lakes region, while 1.5 million came from other parts of the country.